Research from Nielsen Catalina shows that creative is the key factor in effectiveness - and really interesting to note that in digital it’s 50% more important than in TV. Huge opportunity and why we focus on blending great media thinking with great creative thinking.
The best way to optimise a media plan is to get the creative right.
The IGTV launch seems designed to benefit from the shift from short form video to longer formats we are seeing across the industry. But that’s a publisher trend and user generated - or influencer - content still tends to be short. Whilst one cadre of our industry made pilgrimage to Cannes last week, another contingent went to Anaheim for VidCon. It’s where the creators congregate and this year Instagram (and IGTV) was top of the agenda with YouTube close behind. A general trend seemed to be a focus on monetisation and YouTube still tends to lead here.
The fact that there is lots of nostalgia for Vine and super short video is interesting. Looking at China we see that Douyin - which focuses on short form - is doing really well despite being outside BAT. It is owned by ByteDance - a Chinese firm valued at $30billion - known in the West for its purchase of Musically for $1bn - an app well know by anyone with youngish kids.
Our learning there supports our thinking here; creating bespoke content for an app or platform is essential. Just porting content from one platform to another usually ends up being a waste of money, whilst the right creative makes the media spend so much more effective
With the news that Google is retiring the Doubleclick brand and AT&T are buying AppNexus it does feel like we are coming to the end of an era in Adtech. Sad as Doubleclick was born out of Poppe Tyson, the digital agency myself and 2 friends launched in Europe and after hooking up with Modem we became one of Europes’ top Agencies.
But as we have pointed out, AT&T doesn’t have that much of a footprint outside the US. Getting to be global isn’t quick and Lesser admits they also need more tech. And a salesforce would be useful too. In a Cannes interview Terry Kawaja makes the point that the new CEO at Verizon doesn’t have a Tech background and there isn’t really a champion for the Media business left. So he sees a reversal of their strategy as a possibility.
So could AT&T Time Warner accelerate their project by finding a way to accommodate Oath? Would solve the global footprint, the salesforce and most of the Tech. Plus it gives them more inventory.
Investment bank BTIG have some smart thinking on what the AT&T / Time Warner deal means for the industry as a whole and making the point about content developed specifically for Snap - sharing this example - with unskippable 3 second ads.
VC Michael Moritz talks about the way China is taking a lead on technology. There is a lot more detail on this trend in this article. The piece on Douyin above supports this too - these are huge businesses with a focus on just one market(domestic) at the moment. But we are seeing that lots of the ideas can travel - so the threat to GAFA dominance from BAT doesn’t seem so far away any more.
Blockchains and buzzwords
In Cannes there was no end of sessions on Blockchain and on AI. It’s bizarre that anyone would argue against the impact of these technologies. But building a proposition around them is equally bizarre. It’s like someone in the 90s claiming to be the first Microsoft Office Agency.
Smart people always use the best tech they can to solve problems. As this Rob Norman interview with IBM shows there are some clever things to be done. But it’s back office rather than headline stuff. In our conversations clients want growth and are open to new ideas on how to achieve it. But being better at your admin is hygiene and making that the topic of conversation only makes sense if you are trying to resolve legacy issues like explaining to you client how you really make money.
And the next time I hear of Agency using AI ….. Criteo have invested €20m in an AI lab. Douyin talk of being an AI driven company and have their own lab too. In the Agency world we nearest thing we have is Publicis building getting Microsoft to build an app. And the budget for Marcel was the savings on Cannes expenses. Hardly a breakthrough.
The team at The Media Kitchen worked out years ago that VCs invest billions in Tech and the idea an Agency can match that is nonsense. So we do don’t develop Tech - but we do invest - and instead collaborate with the best Tech firms to solve problems for our clients.
A new Ben Evans post gets into Machine Learning and summarises the AI hype well;
It’s not just GAFA chasing content and sports rights. Verizon have invested in NFL rights and Telefonica now have the rights to Spanish football. They did have access before but through an intermediary and this year they cut that intermediary out.
And more on Apple building momentum in content - with a link to a fascinating interview with Apples Eddie Cue on advertising; he never watches ads and doesn’t see a role for traditional ads in the Apple service. But he doesn’t rule them out. I am convinced they are going to get back into ads to better serve their App Developers.
(Here is an interesting diversion; Open settings on your iPhone and click on Privacy. Then scroll all the way to the very end and click on Advertising. Then at the bottom of that page click on about Ads & Privacy - which is in smaller letters. Then read all the ways you can be targeted for ads in the Appstore and in Apple News; it’s not that far away from how anyone else serves targeted ads. And, as they say at the very end, If you enable Limit Ad Tracking you may still receive the same number of ads, but the ads may be less relevant to you.)
Innovation in content is really exciting. We mentioned Skam a while back - the Norwegian soap opera that blends TV and Social and has all the smart content people obsessed. The Facebook remake for the US is now live on Watch and seems to be going well. And a new Norwegian show Blank seems like a sequel to Skam.
The New York Times have found that Amazon have over 100 private label brands and some can only be bought by Prime customers. Amazon Basic batteries now sell a third of all batteries but many others don’t use the Amazon name. They have become very good at driving sales and are forecast to reach $25bn by 2022. Essential reading.
But supermarkets have had private label for years. What’s different here? I think two things; data and the customer journey. Amazon know who to target and where is best on the customer journey.
Plus the rapid rise in Direct to Consumer brands creates the perfect weather for Private Label. When i see the cool ads on Instagram for the excellent Form and Thread shirts and I buy one, that makes me feel more comfortable with an unknown brand on Amazon. So do I know that Goodthreads is an Amazon private label or is it the cool new Instagram brand? Do I care?
CPG firms are rightly worried about this. Those famous brands are at risk as it turns out the billions of ad dollars spent didn’t buy a place in consumers hearts. It just secured scarce shelf space from the big grocery chains and that distribution sold the product. In a word of unlimited shelf space, they need another plan.
And the Fashion industry worries too. Those sky high margins look vulnerable and when Asos, Lyst and other digital gatekeepers have become so valuable, can Amazon steal in? This good Business of Fashion piece goes deep. As Bezos once said
Whilst video is undoubtedly the hot topic there is lots going on with sound and (phone camera) vision.
As headphones and Airpods in particular become ubiquitous the idea of having to read / watch the screen isnt necessary. Whichever stats on Voice search you believe it’s clearly becoming a viable alternative to the keyboard as the voice recognition gets better. Podcasts are going mainstream very quickly and Audiobooks are growing fast. The FT article on China mentioned above be listened to rather than read.
And the guy behind Amazon Music believes Voice Control is a major factor in their continued growth - this long podcast with him and music guru Bob Lefsetz suggests they are underestimated a as a competitor to Apple and Spotify.
The fact Chromebooks run Google Assistant - and therefore have voice - is seen as an argument that you don’t need a Mac laptop. Most of my family have switched to Chromebooks and they are working really well.
Facebook apparently have a new patent that lets their app track what ads you are watching on TV. Sounds a lot like Alphonso. This is interesting for a couple of reasons; The press now have an appetite for stories about Facebook and privacy and this tech has been around for ages. Shopkick used it to trigger instore offers and Yahoo bought a business that did this 10 years ago.
Our friends at Mporium are getting a great reaction to their product that lets you react to TV ads in real time - hijack your rivals SUV ad on TV with your own SUV ads in social, search and display. Or support your own ads with simultaneous digital ads.
Finally...as DTC brands scale they can run out of road with digital and need new channels to reach more customers. It’s something we have discussed with many people over recent months. But it’s a concern that these new brands are falling for the old Agency story of traditional media. TV and Outdoor are great opportunities but need to be used in a way that is measurable. Signals driven traditional media is now possible and blending both old and new media is vital. And - as noted above - most DTC brands could get their creative to work harder.
What’s happening at The media Kitchen
My boss captured the magic of Cannes in this piece for Campaign. Lots of new business conversations - what could we help you with? And I am delighted to be speaking next week at the Summer Technology School that Global are running in Cambridge.
Fix is my thinking rather than that of MediaKitchen. We now have over 5600 subscribers across Google, Facebook, Snap, Amazon etc as well as many VCs, Brands and Agencies.
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